B Sai Praneeth, Aakarshi Kashyap win men’s and women’s singles titles

Sai Praneeth

Sai Praneeth has won the men’s title.

Photo: AP

World Championship bronze medalist and top seed B. Sai Praneeth of Telangana and second seed Aakarshi Kashyap of Chhattisgarh claimed the men’s and women’s singles badminton gold medals respectively at the 36th National Games at the PDDU indoor arena here on Thursday.
Praneeth had to work hard for his 21-11, 12-21, 21-16 victory over Mithun Manjunath of Karnataka in the men’s singles, while Aakarshi defeated top seed Malvika Bansod of Maharashtra 21-8, 22-20. in the women’s singles final.

Thirty-year-old Sai Praneeth’s success meant that Telangana took three gold medals in badminton. They had previously won the women’s doubles and mixed team titles.

Sai Praneeth dominated the opening game, jumping out to an 8-2 lead and never looking back. However, Mithun came back stronger in the second game, but ultimately could do nothing but acknowledge that he was outmatched.

“Once the game started to get away from me, I played quietly to focus on game three,” said Sai Praneeth, who was understandably happy after winning his first National Games gold.

Mithun kept pace with Sai Praneeth for most of the third game, but the experienced fighter did enough to stifle his young opponent’s challenge.

“Once I took the lead at 16-15, I played it safe. I saw that Mithun was getting tired and he had just put on the wheel,” said Sai Praneeth, who finished the match strongly.

Earlier, Aakarshi Kashyap dominated the opening match of the women’s singles final against an erratic Malvika, who needed time to find her rhythm.

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The number one seed Malvika started the second game well, opening up an 8-4 lead. Aakarshi fought back by keeping the midfielder in play longer and closed the gap at 9-9.

However, Malvika was not about to let her guard down and retreat this time. She kept the pressure on her opponent and again climbed to an 18-14 lead and at that point, it looked like the match could come to a decisive point.

But Aakarshi changed the pace of the rallies, shoving Malvika into the backhand corner and scoring six straight points to set up two match points.

Malvika was right to save two, but Aakarshi created a third with a shot down the line and then closed out the crown with a crossover fall to clinch the first gold medal for his state, the organizing committee said in a statement on Thursday.

The Telangana duo of N. Sikki Reddy and Gayatri Gopichand secured women’s doubles gold by beating national champions Ashwini Bhat and Shikha Gautam of Karnataka 21-14, 21-11.

PS Ravikrishna and Sankarprasad Udaykumar of Kerala took the men’s doubles gold by beating Hariharan Amsakarunan and R Ruban Kumar 21-19, 21-19.

Ashwini Ponnappa and K Sai Prateek of Karnataka began their journey as a mixed doubles matchup with a comfortable 21-16, 21-13 victory over Rohan Kapoor and Kanika Kanwal of Delhi.


Women’s Singles: Aakarshi Kashyap (Chhattisgarh) bt Malvika Bansod (Maharashtra) 21-8, 22-20

Women’s Doubles: N Sikki Reddy/Gayatri Gopichand (Telangana) bt Shikha Gautam/Ashwini Bhat (Karnataka) 21-14, 21-11

Men’s Singles: B Sai Praneeth (TS) bt Mithun M. (KTK) 21-11, 12-21, 21-16

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Men’s Doubles: Ravikrishna PS/Sankarprasad Udayakumar(KER) bt Hariharan Amsakarunan/Ruban Kumar(TN) 21-19, 21-19

Mixed Doubles: Sai Pratheek/Ashwini Ponnappa (Karnataka) vt Rohan Kapoor/Kanika Kanwal (Delhi) 21-15, 21-13.

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